Welcome back to the year 2020, where nothing really seems to make sense. Something demonstrated by Volkswagen announcing details of the GTI Clubsport version of the rather new Mk8 Golf.
Previously it took VW three years to confirm a Clubsport creation for the Mk7 Golf GTI. Admittedly that was linked to the 40th anniversary of the original Golf GTI, but it is still normal for manufacturers to make everyone wait for the hottest model.
Perhaps Volkswagen thinks we all need cheering up after this annus horribilis, and is dropping the GTI Clubsport to try and help. It still does seem rather close to revealing the regular GTI though, which became available to order (or secure a cut-price lease deal on) just last month.
We imagine that VW would probably have used the cancelled Paris Motor Show to reveal the Clubsport GTI to the world. That means we all miss out on numerous poorly cropped photos of the latest hot Golf, and instead have to make do with the same press pictures. ESM is yet to form an official opinion on the latest Golf, and the Clubsport is not helping matters.
Whilst 90% of the Mk8 Golf looks just like ‘a lump of car’, that nose does little to inspire affection for it. Being kind we might suggest it resembles an Aston Martin Vantage. However, being honest the sloping bonnet drops away so much it makes the front of the Golf look like it is melting into the tarmac.
The GTI Clubsport does gain a number of styling changes, with the front bumper being aerodynamically reprofiled. This means ditching the Renaultsport-esque fog lights from the regular GTI, with a chunkier splitter added for good measure.
Out back, there is a two-piece rear spoiler. This is most likely inspired by the fatter item found on the previous Mk7 GTI Clubsport, and will undoubtedly be creating actual downforce. Other changes include wider side sills, and a rear diffuser that incorporates two oval exhaust tailpipes. Volkswagen also drops the Clubsport 10mm closer to the ground, along with bolting on a set of 18-inch alloy wheels, and installing bigger brakes.
Bigger changes can be found beneath the bonnet, with the 2.0-litre turbo engine gaining a noticeable boost in power. Mechanical upgraded see output pushed to 300PS (296bhp), making for a sizeable jump from the 245PS (242bhp) of the regular GTI. Torque is also increased, with maximum twist now 295lb-ft.
As a GTI model, this means a front-wheel drive setup has to cope with the stresses of such power. Sadly for tyre suppliers, VW has installed a standard electromechanical front-axle locking differential to control all the torque. It is now linked to the Vehicle Dynamics Manager, meaning we can expect engaging Sport mode to change the settings for the differential, too.
In a move that will upset Volkswagen purists – but probably not those who have to buy cars and drive them in traffic – only a dual-clutch DSG transmission will be fitted. The seven-speed unit will come with steering wheel-mounted paddles, allowing a full pretend race car experience.
Other interior changes are minor, other than the seats gaining a new ArtVelours fabric. Volkswagen states that this can “provide support when cornering at high speed”, but doesn’t say how awkward it might be to clean. The steering wheel includes perforated leather bits, with the pedals finished in an aluminium look. Like every other new Mk8 Golf, there is a notable absence of buttons from the dashboard and centre console.
So does this all make a difference to how the new Golf GTI drives? It does if you measure it on Nürburgring-Nordschleife lap times [what other measures could there be – Ed], according to Volkswagen.
The Clubsport is two seconds faster than a normal GTI around VW’s own test track, and a substantial 13 seconds quicker around the Nordschleife. If online bragging rights matter, this is the place to be.
Volkswagen has not yet announced UK prices, or available options. Expect bigger wheels, and an Akrapovic exhaust system, to likely feature as bolt-on extras. Given that the current Golf GTI begins at £34,960, do not bank on much change from £40,000 for the Clubsport.
German deliveries will begin at the end of 2020, with UK customers expected to receive cars early next year. Although, as with everything these days, we imagine this is subject to change.